Thought-provoking, but tough read

  • Oct. 6, 2017 7:46 p.m.

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Community &Culture: Aboriginal Studies

Published: Sept. 30, 2017. House of Anansi Press Inc.

There is plenty of speculation as to why and how these devastating events played out. Speculation is followed by endless investigations, inquests, and court appearances. All ending with recommendations and plans to be put in order to keep these kids safe in an unwelcoming, hostile, city. But are they ever followed through? No. Because there is always another body pulled from the McIntyre river in Thunder Bay. Another life snuffed out.

Jordan Wabasse, 15-years-old, flew to Thunder Bay in 2010. He was an excellent student in Math and English with future dreams to play for the Maple Leafs hockey team. He was last seen alive getting off the bus a block away from his boarding house in February 2011. His body was found three months later.

Curran Strang, 18 years old, was on a downward spiral for two years before his body was found was discovered in the McIntyre River Sept. 26, 2005.

Paul Panacheese, 21 years old, wanted to do well in school with thoughts about becoming a police officer. Paul wanted better access to education for all indigenous students. But on Nov. 10, 2006, after coming home from a night with friends, Paul’s mom found her son lying on his stomach on the kitchen floor. He had no pulse.

When Jethro Anderson, 15 years old, disappeared, his Aunt called the police only to be told, “He’s just out there partying like every other Native kid.” He was reported missing Oct. 29, 2000, and his body was pulled from the river Nov. 11, 2000.

Robyn Harper, 18 years old, was only a few days into starting her classes when she and a group of friends were out one night. Robyn, who was never a party girl, became inebriated to the point where she couldn’t walk or stand. She was found dead in the inside her boarding house where a patrol team from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School dropped her off.

Reggie Bushie, 15 years old, never liked being alone in the city. Thankfully he was able to live in the same boarding house as his brother, Ricki, who he was extremely close with. After a chaotic night, only Ricki came home. Reggie’s body was found Nov. 1, 2007 – six days after he went missing.

Kyle Morrisseau, 17 years old, was the grandson of the “Picasso of the North” – Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau. Kyle, just like his father and grandfather, would inherit the miraculous talent of painting. When he moved to Thunder Bay, Kyle’s family noticed a change in his behaviour and it was not for the best. He also went missing and his body was pulled from the river in 2009.

Between the year 2000 – 2011, these seven Indigenous teens/young adults left their homes, families and friends to travel hundreds of miles to Thunder Bay, Ont., to obtain a better education. Instead of finding opportunity, what these seven found was much, much worse. Five of the seven corpses would be pulled from the river, and most of their deaths to this day are still labelled ‘undetermined.’ Several factors had a dark role to play. These students were put into a world they were not accustom to, where they had to learn to deal with racism and abuse – fast. This included people hurdling rotten eggs and beer bottles at them in passing cars while they were walking to school or the mall. The resources and support they needed were there but it was limited. The harsh reality is that we failed them. Reading this book will show viewers this, it’s hard to read. It brought me to tears multiple times. This is another important story that should be read. Not only because of the past, but also because of the fact that 17-year-old Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg, 14 years old, went missing the same night in November 2017 in Thunder Bay. Both bodies were found in the McIntyre River within a two-week span. I’ll warn you, this is a book that will bring out sadness, tears, anger, and it will make you question the capability and compassion of those who are the law.

Kirsten Lowe studies at Athabasca University.

Just Posted

WATCH: Finishing touches being put on Servus Arena

The finishing touches are being put on Red Deer’s newest arena. The… Continue reading

Suspect in police chase in court

RCMP opened fire twice while trying to arrest suspects in vehicle chase in October

New temporary beds will immediately help Red Deer homeless

The 20 new temporary beds approved for Safe Harbour’s warming centre cannot… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP are seeking man posing as a police officer

Suspect is large, in his 30s, with red hair and beard

Update: “Someone knows something” – police

Motorist dies near Ponoka after loose tire collides with vehicle near Ponoka

Red Deer police seize rifles and shotguns from storage locker

A man and a woman facing nearly 200 charges after 29 firearms seized last month

Notley criticizes MLA who fired staffer after sex harassment complaint

Notley says if Jason Nixon was her house leader he’d be out of a job immediately.

Red Deer needs to find a solution to syringe debris: city manager

City will consider the problem during the 2018 operating budget talks

WestJet Christmas video turns children’s wishes into reality

This year’s annual video took a new spin on the 12 days of Christmas

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer Dec. 10

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

VIDEO: B.C. to end geographic area rent increases, close fixed-term lease loopholes

Both clauses allowed landlords to raise rents above the max annual allowable rent increase

UPDATE: Train hits hydro pole, causes outage near Deltaport

No injuries reported but traffic in and out of Deltaport is blocked

A Red Deer daycare coordinator wins provincial award of excellence

Nicole Morrell is a coordinator at Johnstone Daycare

Holiday shopping season picking up in Red Deer

With 18 shopping days left until Christmas, Red Deer businesses are cautiously… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month